How To Find a Lost Life Insurance Policy
In the past, many widows and orphans had a problem: When a loved one passed away, it was often difficult to find old life insurance policies – or even find out if one was in force. Some states created databases of policies issued within their jurisdictions, but there was no nationwide database to turn to from anywhere in the country.
This caused a great deal of needless hardship as widows and orphans were unable to receive critical benefits just when the family needed them most.
Fortunately, that’s changed: The National Association of Insurance Commissioners, a nationwide group representing state insurance regulating bodies in all 50 states, has put together a national database. The Life Insurance Policy Locator Service allows survivors to find out if any participating insurance company has a life insurance policy or annuity contract listing them as a beneficiary.
So far, the Policy Locator Service has helped 1,800 survivors collect over $17 million in benefits in just the first six months of operation – and there’s a lot more where that came from: According to reporting from USA Today, there may be as much as $7.4 billion in unclaimed life insurance proceeds, waiting to be paid out.
If you want to start a search, visit the program’s online portal. When you start an inquiry, the NAIC will contact all participating insurance companies to search their records to see if they have a policy or annuity in the name of the deceased. If there is a match, the carrier will contact you. Companies with no record of a policy will not contact you.
Online searches are encrypted and secure to ensure privacy.
Note that you may need to provide a death certificate, which you can generally obtain for the funeral home that handled the deceased’s remains, or via your state’s Office of Vital Statistics. You may also need to be able to show that you have been named an executor or that you legally represent the deceased’s estate. If you are not a beneficiary, and you have not demonstrated that you are an executor or legal representative of the deceased, you may not be contacted.
There is no charge for searching the database. The life insurance company should not charge you a fee, either. If you are charged a fee, contact your state’s insurance commissioner.
For faster results, carefully search the deceased’s records for evidence of a life insurance policy. You may also look at safe deposit boxes for policy documents, and bank records for evidence of regular premium payments to a life insurance company or the receipt of dividends or loan proceeds. Also look for any income and other correspondence from annuity companies. Many survivors may be entitled to death benefits from annuities as well as from life insurance policies – especially if the annuity has only recently begun to pay out an income.
Please allow up to 90 days for insurance companies to complete their searches and contact you with any information.
Additionally, you may wish to do a search for unclaimed property via the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators. You can find more information at www.missingmoney.com.
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